Back on the bus….

20 Aug

So, after Ashland – back on the bus for another night drive, rocking up in Lassen Volcanic Park.

Now THIS was the highlight walk of the trip.  Having left the drivers to resolve the water issue (we didn’t have any) we set off on a two hour hike through the Lassen area.  This whole area used to be a huge volcano, Mount Tahama, which exploded thousands of years ago, destroying the mountain completely and leaving smaller peaks behind.  In 1915 the mountain exploded again, and what we see now is the mountain recovering from the destruction.  The walk took four hours rather than two (the drivers weren’t happy), but the mountain itself is incredibly beautiful – I spotted a hummingbird flying between flowers, and the flowers and trees now soften the mountain.  The chipmunks loved the bits of apple I fed them, although they did pretend to ignore the pieces initially… Unlike Hawai’I which is mostly lava, this is granite blocks that have been hurled into the air from the explosion.

And then we encountered the board walks of Bumpass Hell (named, disappointingly, after Kendall Bumpass who lost a leg after falling into a boiling pool.  Subsequent tourists have been equally unlucky when straying from the boardwalk.  This basin has boiling pools of sulphuric water, mud pots and steaming fumaroles… an amazing and beautiful (if somewhat smelly) sight.  Amazingly, flora clings to the edges of the pools, while bacteria actually survive the chemical hell.

Now, we didn’t realise that the altitude was going to have quite such an effect on the temperature… I nearly froze out there, one of the girls surrendered to the cold and slept on the bus (and she still didn’t look warm in the morning) while Mitch, our resident Australian, nearly developed hypothermia.  Coffee and pancakes restored our core temperature, and a hot shower (the first in 4 days) restored our spirits.  All the leftovers from the night before ended up in a Mexican scramble… deeply unappealing to look at and remarkably tasty to eat.

Inside the magic bus – sleeping quarters after ‘The Miracle’ of conversion

On, then, to Lava Beds national park and exploring the lava tubes there.  Unfortunately, I forgot to remove my sunglasses and walked straight into the low ceiling – the resulting chunk out of my head didn’t produce much sympathy….

We stopped off also at Petroglyph point where the Native Americans used to canoe out over the (now drained) lake to carve images (over 5000) in the rock.  Here, the rock is softer than lava, and so the images have been eroded – and other, more recent, additions have spoiled the mysterious carvings.

Back on the bus for a magical mystery tour that led us into the woods for one final meal together before a night drive that deposited us back at the Green Tortoise hostel at 7am.

Time, then to recharge my batteries (the laptop, the camera, the phone) and take a shower before getting back on board.  This time, we’ve got another 12 people on board… and judging by the new travellers I have met so far, it’s going to be an interesting week.

(Oh, and for the shoppers amongst you – here’s a shot of the Westfield Arcade Nordstrum.. )

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One Response to “Back on the bus….”

  1. Nikki Rose August 23, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    Wow, Tim!
    How astonishingly beautiful those pics of Lassen Volcanic Park – the views must have been breathtaking!

    Am still loving hearing your adventures, and want to be there, too!! (Well, I am – in my imagination!) And there are so many aspects of your trip that keep reminding me of my South American trip, so it’s good to be reliving that, as well – including the day we were up in the mountains of Merida, Venezuela, when the fog and dense clouds suddenly descended upon us, turning a beautiful, sunny day into a dark, eery, freezing hell-hole…

    We couldn’t see a thing, and decided best to pitch the tentthere and then, rather than walking blind into the unknown… Night fell, we were so high up there wasn’t enough oxygen to get the weather-proof matches to light, and I had an asthma attack form the duck-feather sleeping-bag the hostel had lent me…

    It started to rain, and then became so darned cold that icicles formed on the inside of the tent! That was one very, very long night, but the asthma calmed down, and eventually sleep took over. Dawn broke and the light woke us up. Unzipping the entrance to the tent and crawling through into the daylight, revealed the most stunning sun-rise, clear skies, stunning mountain views – and a 100 foot precipice just to our left!! Eek! What fun! ;o)

    Can’t believe we’re nearly into September, with the last Bank Holiday before Christmas almost upon us! And think you said you were coming back for a short while in October! It’ll be lovely for you, but rather strange being back in Ole Blighty again after all that you’ve seen and done so far!

    Keep having fun, and enjoy every minute of it! It’s the stuff of great memories in years to come!

    Take care,
    Love Nikki xx

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